Tonight’s “primetime” game sees 2 teams from the NFC North battle it out at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Bears got the win on thanksgiving to put them in control of the division so the Vikings who are coming off a 25-20 loss at Chicago, and the Packers are coming off a 27-24 loss at Seattle need wins in the race for a wildcard spot.

These 2 have already played out a tie in the early weeks of the season and many would have predicted that this week 12 rematch would have had implications on the division crown. Inconsistent play has cost both of these teams and despite some superstar players on both teams we are getting to the stage of the season where a game like this must be described as “must win”.

The Vikings defence ranks in the top 5 in terms of yards allowed allowing an average of just 320 yards per game. That number has only been improving in recent weeks and the pass rush has been getting to the quarterback with consistent regularity. Danielle Hunter who is second in the league with 11.5 sacks had 3.5 out of the teams 10 in their most recent matchup against the Detroit Lions.

Offensively the Vikings rank just 14th in the league despite Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen continuing to play at a high level. The pair rank 1st and 2nd in the league in terms of targets they receive each week but that the reliance on the pair is evidenced by the issues elsewhere. The lack of a running game has been one of the biggest surprises of the season after this was a big success of the team last year. Looking back a season ago the Vikings ranked as the 7th best rushing team in the league compared to being ranked 30th this season heading into the game.

The Packers come into this one having had 3 losses in their last 4 games. Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s job security has come into question after poor recent performances and it’s assumed he will go if Green Bay can’t make the playoffs. QB Aaron Rodgers has still been very good this season and Davante Adams has emerged as one of the best receivers in the NFL. So far the top target in the offence has 953 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. Aaron Jones is also an emerging option at Running Back, having been caught up in an annoying rotation earlier in the season. 

Defensively, the Packers just haven’t done enough this season. They’ve allowed at least 27 points in 5 of their last 6 games and failed to play strong complementary football. They struggled again in Seattle last week, allowing the Seahawks to control the game on the ground gaining 173 rushing yards on 35 carries. Russell Wilson also made some plays on their susceptible pass defence, throwing for 225 yards and 2 scores of his own. Jaire Alexander is an exciting piece in the secondary to build around and if the Packers are to keep their season alive here, this unit will need a much better performance all around.

As I eluded to in my weekly preview piece I’m personally taking the Vikings in this one. The Packers are still yet to win away from home this season and I don’t see that changing tonight. Enjoy the game if you are planning on staying up into the early hours.

 

 

 

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